NDAA Update: Senate Passage Still in Question With Time Running Out

NDAA Update: Senate Passage Still in Question With Time Running Out
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With time running out on the overcrowded legislative calendar, one of the most significant bills of the year is nearing completion on an irregular path through the halls of Congress.


The FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) now carries a Senate bill number – S. 1065; you can review it here. That chamber will sponsor the final bill.


The bill passed the House on Dec. 7 by a convincing 363-70 vote. But whether the Senate will vote on the legislation remains an open question – one likely to be answered in the coming days, even though the Congressional calendar was set to end Dec. 10.


This legislation has become law for 60 consecutive years. So, how did we get here?

  • The Armed Services Committees from the House and Senate begin their work on the annual defense bill in the spring, with the staffers and subcommittees doing most of the work. Typically, Congress aims to have an NDAA signed into law by the beginning of a new fiscal year to coincide with appropriations, but both have slid in recent years to the end of the calendar year.

  • For the FY 2022 NDAA, the House Armed Services Committee started the process on July 2, worked through the subcommittees, and endured several postponements due to voting protocols. The full House passed the bill on Sept. 23; so far, nothing warranting concerns regarding the timelines.

  • The Senate Armed Services Committee got its draft of the NDAA through committee on July 21. MOAA expected a floor vote shortly thereafter, but the vote never came.

  • As time passed, other priorities arose, such as funding the government with a continuing resolution (CR), addressing infrastructure overhauls, and the pandemic. We landed in December with an expiring CR and the same infrastructure challenges.


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Now we’re approaching the legislative version of overtime, and while Congress has passed another CR  keeping the federal lights on through February, the NDAA has yet to clear the Senate chamber.


With a general consensus as to the importance of getting a final bill the president would support and sign, the Senate is sponsoring the idea of an agreed-upon bill using the House’s version, with some Senate modifications. Some believe the Senate can garner the support necessary to pass the bill; others may want to continue posturing for the opportunity to argue for their amendments. Either way, we will know more over the next few days.


When resolved, MOAA will prepare a thorough analysis of our legislative priorities relative to the efforts throughout this year. Please be ready to engage in those areas still needing attention.


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About the Author

Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret)
Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret)

Merry earned his commission in 1989 through AFROTC and commanded DoD’s Port Mortuary at Dover AFB, Del. He has served in multiple overseas conflicts since the 1990s and has served as the Vice President of Government Relations since August 2016.